Wednesday, 11 December 2013

About hugs

I'm pondering how something as simple as a hug can be so complex.  It can offer comfort or it can be given with a broken heart.  It can be shared in jubilation or it can signal the end of the day and sweet dreams for the night.

When I first saw the From Hectic to Harmonious day 8 challenge in the morning - share cuddles - I was pretty sure I would have many opportunities before lunch had been placed on the table a mere few hours later.  After all, I have two very cuddly little ones who seem to be magnetically drawn to my lap.  One is usually sitting on me for our circle time, the other will curl up with me for a book.  One will cuddle with me as we create homemade wrapping paper and the other will sense when I need a hug and beam her smiling face up at me as she wraps her arms around my waist.  Plus, as coincidence would have it, our Christmas countdown activity in the evening was to huddle up around the fire and read Christmas stories while munching on popcorn.  We had this challenge in the bag, without even trying.

But then I thought, what about that oldest one of mine?  The one who will (politely) decline a hug or an arm wrapped around his shoulders out in public.  The one who is growing into himself and prefers things kept at arms-length, most of the time.  The exceptions make me thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity to be present when the desire for a hug arises.  For I must say that I've noticed more hugs post-public school.  And I see the innocence and wonder in his eyes, and his passion and love for life when we do get moments of closeness.  He seems happy and at ease.  He can let his guard down.

As it turned out, Nicholas and I didn't have a cuddle that morning.  We did huddle up close to the fire in the evening and we had our ritual good-night hug.  But it felt that even though we didn't actually physically touch in the morning, we shared a closeness and a bonding as we worked together to create a story based on several pictures he drew and inspired by the ideas he'd read about in The Book of Fairy Princes.

Here is his story:



Once upon a time in a very, very colourful forest there was a great wise owl and a colourful oak tree with leaves of blue, green, pink, purple, orange, yellow, red and brown.  And that great oak tree stood in the middle of a castle’s courtyard guarded by a very, very wise owl.  But there was a demon up in the skies above that didn’t like the sight so one day he decided to go down to the forest of beautiful colours and he would try and burn it down or destroy it in some way.

So, when he went down, he said, “Hey, mister owl.  I saw a sick tree about two miles west.  I think it’s your job to fix it.  But, are you able to fix it?”

And the owl said, “Yes, I’m the guardian of this forest.  So off he went as quick as the wind could go.

Once he was gone, the demon, who knew that there was only one way to defeat this forest, and it was to burn down the great oak tree.  So he burnt down the great oak tree, and the fire spread so much that it burnt down almost the whole forest.  Only the drooping firs were able to survive.  And there were only two colours of this drooping fir – green and brown.

When the great wise owl got to about two miles to the west, he found no sick trees and all of his trees were shining.  Then, all of a sudden, all the trees stopped shining their beautiful colour and they turned into dull reds, blues, browns, pinks, purples and all the other colours.  So the great wise owl knew something was wrong when he saw that.  When he looked behind him, he saw a great fire raging.  So, he quickly acted, for he knew what the demon had done.  He collected all of the animals that knew him and lived closest to the water to tell him where the yellow part of the water lives.  All the animals said,  “there is only one lake, and it only has yellow water in the centre of the lake.”

The owl flew as quick as the wind to the lake and the lake’s name was The Lake of Colourful Treasures.  He flew over to that lake and he took a big mouthful of the yellow part of the water.  He flew back to the great oak tree and he sprinkled the water on the raging fire on the great oak tree.  Once this was done, the fire ceased all over.  And because the owl was mad with the demon, he decided he would put up a magical barrier using his magical powers.  But the only magical powers he had were to save this great colourful forest. 

So, he sat in the east side of the tower being very sad and letting his sorrow sweep away from him.  When he was done being sad, he went to the west tower and he collected all of his seeds that he had collected from the different coloured trees and he planted them where all the other dead trees were.  The only trees that were remaining were the brown drooping fir and the green drooping fir. 

Once he was done planting, he asked all the trees if they would let him know when the demon came back so that during that time, he could prepare a spell to protect the forest.  So, all the trees agreed.  But while he was preparing, he was also researching a way to make a red drooping fir, a blue drooping fir, and an orange drooping fir, pink drooping fir, purple drooping fir and yellow drooping fir – the most important of all the colours.  When he was done, he was able to make one of each colour fir but just to make sure that the demon didn’t come in, he decided to stay watch on the great oak tree.  But after the fire everyone called it the great dead oak tree.  And you may be wondering how the great wise owl was able to make a spell to keep the demon out.  All he did was he put a yellow fir on each point of the forest – north, east, south, and west.  Nowadays, if you go to the forest, you will see him perched on the great dead oak tree.  But now, for the rest of the story.

Once he fixed all the damage of the fire, he sat upon the great dead oak tree all the time because of all the trees, it was his favorite.  As a sign of respect and friendship, he sat on it to watch over the forest all of the time. 
But now the demon, he saw that the owl was smart and he fixed it.  And he saw that he could not get in and destroy it.  But he saw all the other forests around it and he thought, "What if I light a fire in each of the forests, north, east, south and west?"  So, he researched as well.  And he found out that the magical barrier could not let him in, but other forest fires could get in.  So, he decided he would go light a fire in each of the four forests.  He went over and he lit a fire in the forest of the north.  Then he went down and did the forest of the east.  Then he went down and did the forest of the south.  Then he went west and did the forest of the west.  But then he thought, “ Uh oh, how will I get out?”

He decided to fly north.  But the fire was too big for him to get back up to the sky.  So he went back to the west where it was just a small fire.  But he couldn’t get back up to the sky because his sky was in the east.  He went to the south but the fire was too big so he could not make his way back to the east (which is where he came from). 

So, the demon was stuck in the fires, and the fires were getting too big.  So he thought, “all I can do is trust my luck.” He flew through the southern fire and it burned his wings.  So he ran to the east side, but it burned his feet.  So then, he had to crawl.  But when he was crawling, he wasn’t fast enough.  The fire swallowed him up, and that was the last that was seen of the demon.

But the great wise owl saw all of the fires coming.  He acted quickly.  He went over to the lake of colourful treasures (in the centre of the forest) and he took four big mouthfuls of the yellow water in the center.  And he flew  as quick as the wind to each of the four points of the forest.  He got to the north point and sprinkled some water on the yellow drooping fir.  When he got to the east point, he sprinkled some water on the eastern yellow drooping fir.  When he got to the southern point, he sprinkled some water on the yellow drooping fir down there.  When he got to the western point, he looked and he saw not even a fire at all.  It had all burned out in the western point.  What he decided to do with his last mouthful was:  to sprinkle water on each of the other trees, for some animals did not want to live by lakes and then they could live in other places in the forest.

So, it stayed nice and peaceful, with animals eating dewdrops from the trees for quite a while.  But soon it was winter.  So the animals came to the great dead oak tree and said, “What will we eat now, for it is winter.” 

And the owl said, “Once a snowflake falls on the very peak of each tree, it will turn into a larger, bright-coloured snowflake.  But, after that, all the other snowflakes will turn into brightly coloured snowflakes that you can eat, though you may not to eat them because they look so beautiful.  But that is what you will eat in winter.”

So, they found that almost every tree had a brightly coloured snowflake, though a lot of people would mistake them for a star on top.  They looked down lower and saw lots of colourful snowflakes and they just stood there looking at them.  But one of the animals’ stomachs grumbled at them.  They knew they would starve if they just stood looking at them.  They went over and ate just a single snowflake and then they didn’t need to eat any more snowflakes, for a sudden burst of energy filled them, and they were full after the single snowflake.

So, then it came to the new year’s and the bright stars on the tops of the trees disappeared.  So they all went to the great owl and asked, “What will we do, for all of the stars at the tops of the trees have went away?”

And he said,  "Well, it is still winter, and the snowflakes will not be bright and shining, but they will still be the colour of yellow and you will still be able to eat them until spring.  In spring, you will eat dewdrops again.”

So all of the animals went back to the trees and ate a single snowflake.  And their bodies burst with energy and fullness so that they didn’t need to eat anymore.  So then the animals knew about what they needed to eat and when and they didn’t need to ask the wise owl any more questions.

So, now whenever you go out into the forest of beautiful colours, if you see a brown tree , after that tree you will see a path.  And that path will lead you directly to the wise owl.  You should only go to see the great wise owl when you need help from him. 

I think I’ve forgotten to mention, but there are four different trees in this forest of beautiful colours.  There is the drooping fir, the soldier pine, the house spruce and the tower spruce, also known as the church spruce.  There are some other reasons you might want to go and see the great wise owl, for he is a very good poet and he does excellent poetry.  So you may want to go to see him to learn some of his poetry. 

Here is a poem I learned from the great wise owl:
A forest fire -
An unpleasant one,
Disturbing the humble one,
But when it’s gone -
And there are few trees,
It’s time for me to plant the seeds.
My great oak tree is gone – alas,
It has also lost its giant mass,
On top of it I will perch,
Very sad and very hurt.
All the animals will come to me –
They are sad and have no glee,
They come to me and they say: 
“What do we eat?
For we cannot have the thing called meat!”
And I say:  “Look at the trees –
What do you see?”
We see snow: he, he, he.
Try the snow and you’ll see,
That the snow is good to eat.

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